29 May 2023

Museum Monday 2023/22


a detail (showing Apollo & the nine Muses) from Madonna and Child with Saint John the Baptist and Saint George by Cesare da Sesto, now at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco

18 May 2023

Another Opening, Another Show: June 2023

Here we are, at the halfway point of this year. As a reminder, the last weekend of June includes the Pride parade & other celebrations in San Francisco, so you may want to think twice about heading into SF (whether by car or public transportation) unless, of course, your aim is to go to the Pride events, & in case you think this warning is unnecessary, I once blithely booked two concerts in Civic Center, end point of the parade, on the last Sunday in June, completely forgetting about Pride, & to make matters worse both local baseball teams had home games that day, which is unusual; BART was unbearably packed, & though the green-&-gold crowd left after one stop, & the black-&-orange crowd once we got to Embarcadero (or, for some of them, Montgomery, as you can get to the ballpark from either station), the rainbow crowd was with me to the end. It took me about 40 minutes to make the usually 10-minute walk from the Civic Center station to the Opera House, & then looking for a place to eat between concerts led to much wandering & searching, even though many restaurants were almost empty when I looked in, but they were (allegedly) waiting for people who had reservations, or perhaps were simply drunker & more free-spending than sober little me. Anyway, now you can't say that nobody warned you.


There seem to be more musicals than usual opening this month, so I guess summer really is on the way.

ACT presents a stage version of the Wizard of Oz, based on the beloved 1939 film as adapted for the Royal Shakespeare Company by John Kane; this production is directed & choreographed by Sam Pinkleton & runs from 1 to 25 June.

Cutting Ball Theater & Skywatchers offer Towards Opulence, the Opera on 3 - 4 June, presenting life in the Tenderloin in the larger context of American social & financial systems.

42nd Street Moon presents She Loves Me (book by Joe Masteroff, music by Jerry Bock, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick), based on a play by Miklós László that is now most familiar to us as the source of Lubitsch's beloved film The Shop Around the Corner, & that will open 8 June & run through the 25th.

Ray of Light Theater presents a concert version of Spring Awakening (music by Duncan Sheik, book & lyrics by Steven Sater) at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco from 8 to 11 June.

The Lorraine Hansberry Theater gives us the world premiere of In the Evening by the Moonlight by Traci Tolmaire, co-created & directed by Margo Hall, imagining an evening spent together by Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, & Nina Simone at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, & that runs 15 June to 2 July at the Young Performer's Theater at Fort Mason.

Aurora Theater presents Hurricane Diane by Madeleine George, directed by Jennifer King, about Dionysus visiting a New Jersey cul-de-sac "in the guise of a butch gardener named Diane, hell bent on reversing climate change" & that opens 16 June & runs to 16 July.

The touring company of the recent Broadway revival of the Sondheim/Lapine Into the Woods will be at the Curran in San Francisco from 20 to 25 June.

San Francisco Playhouse's summer musical this year will be A Chorus Line (music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban, book by James Kirkwood Jr & Nicholas Dante; directed by Bill English & Nicole Helfer, with music direction by Dave Dobrusky & choreography by Nicole Helfer), & that opens 22 June & runs to 9 September.

From 23 June to 30 July, Berkeley Rep offers the world premiere of Out of Character, a one-person show written & performed by Ari'elel Stachel & directed by Tony Taccone, about dealing with his Middle Eastern (Yemeni Jewish) background post-9/11.


You can spend An Evening with Jane Fonda at the Castro Theater on 1 June.

City Arts & Lectures has some interesting-looking programs this month: Politician & writer Stacey Abrams appears on 3 June in conversation with Dan Pfeiffer (co-presented with Marcus Books, & each ticket includes a copy of her book Rogue Justice); poet Ocean Vuong appears on 9 June in conversation with Mike Mills; & on 19 June former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be in conversation with Jelani Cobb.


Opera Parallèle presents The Shining, based on Stephen King's novel (rather than the celebrated Kubrick film), with music by Paul Moravec & libretto by Mark Campbell, at the Yerba Buena Center on 2 - 4 June.

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts & Peter Sellars directs the Kaija Saariaho (music) & Amin Maalouf (libretto) opera Adriana Mater, with soloists Fleur Barron (mezzo-soprano), Axelle Fanyo (soprano), Nicholas Phan (tenor), & Christopher Purves (baritone) at the San Francisco Symphony on 8, 10, & 11 June.

San Francisco Opera closes its Centennial Season with a special concert & three operas: the concert will be 16 June, when "Conductors Eun Sun Kim, Sir Donald Runnicles, and Patrick Summers lead a cavalcade of beloved San Francisco Opera stars in a program that spans our history"; singers listed on the website include Karita Mattila, Ailyn Pérez, Patricia Racette, Nina Stemme, Heidi Stober, Adela Zaharia, Susan Graham, Daniela Mack, Lawrence Brownlee, Michael Fabiano, Brandon Jovanovich, Russell Thomas, Lucas Meachem, Brian Mulligan, & Christian Van Horn.

The three operas are: Puccini's Madama Butterfly, in a new production by Amon Miyamoto, conducted by Music Director Eun Sun Kim & starring Karah Son as Cio-Cio-San & Michael Fabiano as Pinkerton (Moisés Salazar takes the 1 July performance), & that's 3, 6, 9, 18, 21, 24, & 27 June & 1 July; Richard Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten, which received its American premiere in San Francisco back in 1959, will be conducted by Sir Donald Runnicles, using the David Hockney production, with leading roles taken by David Butt Philip, Camilla Nylund, Linda Watson, Johan Reuter, & Nina Stemme, & that's 4, 10, 20, 23, & 28 June; & the premiere of an SF Opera co-commission, El último sueño de Frida y Diego, with music by Gabriela Lena Frank & libretto by Nilo Cruz, conducted by Roberto Kalb & directed by Lorena Maza, starring Daniela Mack as Frida Kahlo & Alfredo Daza as Diego Rivera, & that's 13, 17, 22, 25,  & 30 June.

In conjunction with the production of Frau,  on 2 June the San Francisco Public Library will host Larry Wolff as he discusses his new book, The Shadow of the Empress: Fairy-Tale Opera and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy, which "explores how the changing circumstances of politics and society transformed [the] opera and its cultural meanings before, during, and after the First World War"; friends who heard him give this presentation for the Wagner Society of Northern California were very impressed.

Pocket Opera gives us Offenbach's delightful Orpheus in the Underworld, with music direction by Frank Johnson & stage direction by Bethanie Baeyen, on 11 June at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, 18 June at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, & 25 June at the Gunn Theater in the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.


The San Francisco Girls Chorus (Chorus School Level IV), led by Monica Baruch & joined by César Cancino on piano, Stefan Cwik on guitar, Heidi Modr on violin, & Jared Pabilona on string bass, will perform works by Otmar Mácha, Aaron Copland, Sarah Quartel, Princess Lili’uokalani (arranged by Stephen Hatfield), György Orbán, Ernani Aguiar, Mendelssohn, & Eric Whitacre at Old First Concerts on 2 June.

The International Orange Chorale starts its 20th season with Best of the Zest, a collection of audience favorites from past seasons, including works by Joby Talbot, Gordon Hamilton, Ily Matthew Maniano, & that's 3 June at Christ Church East Bay in Berkeley & 10 June at Saint Matthew's Lutheran in San Francisco (in case you initially misread the location as I did: this is a church near Mission Dolores, not the more usual venue of Saint Mark's Lutheran near the Cathedral).

Chanticleer marks the 400th anniversary of the death of recusant composer William Byrd by exploring his works in Music for a Hidden Chapel on 7 June at Saint Stephen's Episcopal in Belvedere, 8 June at Mission Santa Clara, 10 June at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, & 11 June at Saint John's Lutheran in Sacramento.

Its world premiere was postponed due to COVID, but the San Francisco Girls Chorus, led by Valérie Sainte-Agathe, will at last be presenting a work it commissioned, Matthew Welch's Tomorrow’s Memories: A Little Manila Diary, with stage direction by Sean San José & featuring Florante Aguilar on guitar, Patti Kilroy, on violin, & Levy Lorenzo on percussion, & that's 16 - 18 June at the Magic Theater at Fort Mason.


On 2 June, the Merola Opera Program presents the world premiere of a work it commissioned, 26 Ways of Looking at a Black Man by B E Boykin, setting poetry by Raymond Patterson & performed by baritone Sidney Outlaw & pianist Warren Jones, at the Bayview Opera House in San Francisco; the program will also include pieces by Fauré, Brahms, William Grant Still, & Mohammed Fairouz (Deep Rivers, featuring players from the Oakland Symphony).

On 29 June, the Merola Opera Program will present this year's singers in a program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music titled Metamorphosis: Recovery, Renewal, and Rebirth, featuring pieces by Alma Mahler, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Robert Owens, Florence Price, & others, selected by Merola Artistic Director Carrie-Ann Matheson & tenor Nicholas Phan (the recital will be performed with English surtitles, as more recitals should be).


Manfred Honeck leads the San Francisco Symphony in the SFS premiere of amazon by Gloria Isabel Ramos Triano, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (with piano soloist Beatrice Rana), & the Schubert Symphony in C major, the Great, & that's at Davies Hall on 1 - 3 June.

Music Director Joseph Young leads the Berkeley Symphony in the world premiere of Xi Wang's Lotus Prayer, along with Carlos Simon's Portrait of a Queen & Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, at Zellerbach Hall on 4 June.

Dawn Harms leads the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony in the Brahms 2, Mary Watkins's Soul of Remembrance (from Five Movement in Color), & the Bernstein 2, the Age of Anxiety (with soloist Sara Davis Buechner) on 10 June at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The Golden Gate Symphony presents Songs of Remembrance, paying tribute to Jewish composers who worked while imprisoned during the Holocaust (the exact program has not yet been announced), on 4 June at Herbst Theater.

The International Pride Orchestra gives the "debut performance of the world's first international LGBTQ+ orchestra" on 22 June at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; the evening is hosted by drag performer Peaches Christ & features soprano Breanna Sinclairé; the program includes the world premiere of Loud, which the IPO commissioned from Jimmy López Bellido, as well as the arias Elle a fui, la tourterelle from Offenbach's Les Contes d'HoffmanO mio babbino caro from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, & Somewhere from Bernstein/Sondheim's West Side Story, & then Soul of Remembrance from Five Movements in Color by Mary Watkins (also featured by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony this month) & the Tchaikovsky 4 (the site lists three conductors – Christine Brandes, Robert Moody, & Michael Roest – but it wasn't clear to me who will be leading what).​

Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen closes out the San Francisco Symphony's season with three concerts: on 15 - 17 June, pianist Igor Levit is the soloist for the Beethoven Piano Concerto 5, followed by the Eroica; Levit returns on 22, 24, & 25 June as the soloist in that strange rarity, the Busoni Piano Concerto (in its SFS premiere), & 29 - 30 June & 1 July, soprano Julia Bullock joins Salonen & the band for a concert made up mostly of SFS premieres: Reena Esmail's Black Iris, Gershwin's Somebody from Somewhere, Margaret Bonds's The Negro Speaks of Rivers, Gershwin's Summertime, Bonds's Winter Moon, Gershwin's Soon, & Ravel's complete Daphnis et Chloé.

Chamber Music

Cellist Jennifer Kloetzel & pianist Allegra Chapman will perform music by Beethoven, Frank Bridge, Libby Larsen, & Rachmaninoff along with a world premiere from  Richard Aldag at Old First Concerts on 9 June.

Artists from the San Francisco Symphony, joined by pianist Igor Levit, will play Frank Bridge's Lament, Mark O'Connor's Appalachia Waltz & Emily's Reel, & the Shostakovich Piano Quintet in Davies Hall on 18 June.


Pianist Francesca Khalifa will play music by Debussy, Brian T. Field, Bartók, Gabriela Ortiz, & Miguel del Aguila at Old First Concerts on 23 June.

Pianist Igor Levit, as part of his residency this month with the San Francisco Symphony, will perform a solo recital in Davies Hall on 27 June, featuring music by Brahms (arranged by Busoni), Fred Hersch, Wagner (arranged by Zoltán Kocsis) & the Liszt Piano Sonata in B minor.

Early / Baroque Music

On 3 June at First Congregational in Berkeley, the San Francisco Early Music Society will host its first summer mini-festival, including a choral workshop on Early Music part-singing with Magen Solomon, a lecture by Kip Cranna (If Only He Had Written an Opera – Johann Sebastian Bach), & two concerts: in the afternoon Harmonia Felice (Amy Brodo, cello & viola da gamba; Roy Whelden, viola da gamba; Jon Mendle, lute & theorbo; Yuko Tanaka, harpsichord) will perform music by Johannes Schenck & Isabella Leonarda & Beneath a Tree (Gail Hernández Rosa, violin; Daniel Turkos, bass), will perform music by Bach & Mozart as well as Celtic tunes & what they describe as "a Bay Area surprise!", along with Junior Bach Festival violinist Emil Ma performing Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin in D minor; & in the early evening you can hear Nash Baroque (Vicki Melin, traverso; Farley Pearce, viola da gamba; Katherine Heater, harpsichord; Irenie Melin-Gompper, dance) exploring music & movement in Rameau’s Dardanus, & the Sikh Heritage Symphony (Leena Singh, rabab; Gurpreet Singh, taus; Keerat Singh, sitar; Rajvinder Singh, tabla) will explore the long history of Sikh devotional music (Gurmat Sangeet) through the Gurmat Raaganjali, which "explores the 31 single raags found in the Guru Granth Sahib, the central sacred text of Sikhism", & along with that Junior Bach Festival harpsichordist Shuxian Ding will perform the prelude from Bach’s English Suite in A minor.

American Bach Soloists presents an Artist Showcase concert at the SF Conservatory of Music on 4 June, featuring harpsichordist Gabriel Benton with flutist Bethanne Walker & violinist YuEun Gemma Kim, performing works by Bach, Boismortier, & Rameau.

See also Chanticleer performing William Byrd, listed above under Choral.

Modern / Contemporary Music

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble presents Starry Nights, featuring the world premiere of a new flute concerto by Josiah Catalan, Night of the South Winds, along with Nina Shekhar's Bedtime Stories, Martin Rokeach's Sleepless Night, & Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), & that's 4 June at the Piedmont Center for the Arts & 5 June at the SF Conservatory of Music.

The annual summer solstice celebration of new music & its performers, Garden of Memory at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, will take place on 21 June.

On 24 June at the Center for New Music, you can hear Five by Five, in which five Bay Area composers present five new works written for flute (Jessie Nucho), clarinet (Stephen Zielinski), violin (Maki Ishii Sowash), cello (Vicky Ehrlich), piano (Keisuke Nakagoshi), & voice (soprano Shauna Fallihee); the composers are John Beeman with Sprites, inspired by an unusual weather phenomenon: Steve Mobia with Fissures, referring to sudden breaks in thematic structures: Allan Crossman with selections from his ballet The Sleepless Beauty; Alden Jenks with a song cycle based on poetry by Akiko Yosano describing a woman’s experience of an unhappy love affair; & Davide Verotta with Five Movements for Small Ensemble, a moody piece about moods; Steed Cowart conducts.

The annual Kronos Festival, which this year celebrates the quartet's Fifty for the Future commissions, will be held at the SF Jazz Festival on 22 - 24 June; you can explore the line-up here.

Art Means Painting

What Has Been and What Could Be: The BAMPFA Collection opens at, of course, BAM/PFA on 7 June & runs through 9 June 2024, & will be an exploration via "thematic sections" of the museum's permanent collection, including "seventeenth-century Japanese scrolls, eighteenth-century European paintings by women artists, and American landscapes and folk art of the nineteenth century, alongside mid-century abstract painting, feminist art, quilts, and conceptual art", though it's a little unclear from the website description if all these things are being displayed all at once all year or if there will be rotating exhibits.

The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England opens at the Legion of Honor on 24 June and runs through 24 September.


BAM/PFA kicks off its summer films this month with three series: Ambassador of Cinema: Tom Luddy’s Lasting Influence at BAMPFA launches on 1 June & runs through 15 July & features many favorites pf the PFA's first program director; Claudia Cardinale: Once Upon a Time launches on 9 June & runs through 22 July, & Shitamachi: Tales of Downtown Tokyo launches on 16 June & runs through 29 July & portrays the "low part" of Tokyo through films both classic & obscure.

There will be a 35th anniversary showing of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? at the Castro Theater on 10 June, with special guest Charles Fleischer (Roger Rabbit).

The Frameline Festival of LGBTQ+ films will take place at the Castro Theater from 16 - 24 June (the whole line-up has not been announced as I type this, but a preview is here).

The Roxie in San Francisco has some interesting programs coming up, though as I write this they have not yet posted their whole schedule for June: on 4 June you can see Toshio Matsumoto’s 1969 film Funeral Parade of Roses, starring Peter, best known as the Fool in Ran, Kurosawa's version of King Lear, & this time the tragic source is Greek for this tale set in the Tokyo demimonde; 5 June brings 1997's Virtue, from a now-gone San Francisco underground, followed by an interview with the film's director, Camera Obscura; on 8 June DocFest brings Black Barbie: A Documentary, about the first Black Barbie; & on 10 June you can see, on the big screen & in 35 mm, one of the all-time Hollywood classics, The Wizard of Oz, so this month begins & ends with Dorothy & the witches, & there's no place like home, is there.

15 May 2023

Museum Monday 2023/20


detail of John Singer Sargent's Group of Spanish Convalescent Soldiers from the show Sargent and Spain, which just closed at the Legion of Honor

(The white slash above the eyebrow of the standing man is a ceiling light reflected in the glass covering the work)

01 May 2023

Museum Monday 2023/18


detail of The Long Gloves, a pastel by Mary Cassatt now at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco